Organization Style, Leadership Strategy and Free-Riding

36 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2015

See all articles by Béatrice Boulu-Reshef

Béatrice Boulu-Reshef

Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne - Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne (CES)

Charles A. Holt

University of Virginia - Department of Economics

Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Date Written: April 16, 2015

Abstract

Organizations often match leaders with followers in order to foster cooperation, mitigate free riding, and thereby accomplish tasks effectively. This paper studies the effect of organization styles on leaders' choices of leadership strategy, and the effect of this choice on free-riding behavior. In controlled experiments, leaders are asked to choose messages from a message set that induces a leadership style and to send it to followers in a repeated and finite horizon public goods game. When provided with collegial leadership style messages, leaders perform better than their top down counterparts, but only when targeted private communication is not allowed. When it is allowed, leaders who are instructed to be top down perform better by focusing on individuals, not the group, and by leading while accounting for contributor types. The paper uncovers core and understudied mechanisms of top down leadership, and challenges the consensus that collegiality is best for leading groups.

Keywords: leadership strategy, organization style, free-riding, cooperation, public goods game

JEL Classification: C92, D23, H41, L23

Suggested Citation

Boulu-Reshef, Béatrice and Holt, Charles A. and Thomas-Hunt, Melissa C., Organization Style, Leadership Strategy and Free-Riding (April 16, 2015). Darden Business School Working Paper No. 2595318. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2595318 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2595318

Béatrice Boulu-Reshef (Contact Author)

Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne - Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne (CES) ( email )

106-112 Boulevard de l'hopital
106-112 Boulevard de l'Hôpital
Paris Cedex 13, 75647
France

Charles A. Holt

University of Virginia - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 400182
Rouss Hall #114
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182
United States
(804) 924-7894 (Phone)

Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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